Runner-Up Best Oralist
Runner-Up Best Brief
From left to right: Dean Donald Tobin, Jules Szanton, The Hon. Michele Hotten, Benjamin Garmoe, The Hon. Pamela Harris, Ashley Wetzel, The Hon. George Hazel, Holly Leasure.
This case takes place in the State of Pawnee. In 2011, local legislator Leslie Knope was elected Governor of Pawnee. Ms. Knope had assistance during her campaign from local businessman Ronald Swanson, who donated substantial sums of money to her campaign.
While Ms. Knope was Governor in 2013, a school shooting occurred at Donna Meagle High School. A student brought an AR-15 weapon to school and opened fire on staff and students, killing a teacher and a student before taking his own life. As a response to this shooting, State Senator Ben Wyatt, a legislative alley of Governor Knope, introduced the Firearm Safety and Protection Act (FSAP). This act expanded background check requirements and most notably gave Pawnee discretion in determining whether to issue public carry permits to individual citizens.
Mr. Swanson strongly opposed the passage of FSAP and broke with the Knope administration in opposing it. Months after the law passed, an intruder broke into Mr. Swanson’s home and attempted to enter his eldest daughter’s bedroom. Swanson held the intruder at gunpoint until police arrived. After this incident, Swanson applied for a public carry permit for his handgun but was ultimately denied.
While his application was pending, Swanson formed a non-profit corporation to pursue policy goals. Within that corporation, Swanson founded two political action committees – ONEPAC and DOSPAC. The second, DOSPAC, was organized as an independent committee solely involved in uncoordinated political activity, while ONEPAC coordinated directly with candidates. While the two entities were registered separately, they shared staff and projects between organizations and there was some evidence of financial transfers from DOSPAC to ONEPAC.
Upon denial of his firearm carry permit, Swanson sought to donate more than the statutory maximum of $5,000 to DOSPAC. Frustrated with this donation limit and his firearm permit denial, Swanson filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Pawnee, claiming that (1) Pawnee’s “may issue” gun law provision violated the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, and (2) Pawnee’s $5,000 contribution cap violated the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The District Court granted summary judgment for Swanson, but the Court of Appeals for the Twelfth Circuit reversed this ruling. Swanson sought certiorari at the United States Supreme Court, who granted his petition.